Important advances in scholarship on the post-emancipation South have made possible a new synthesis that moves beyond broad generalizations about African American agency to identify both the shared elements in black life across the region and the varying capacity of freedpeople to assert their interests in the face of white hostility. Building on a number of recent studies of Reconstruction this article seeks to demonstrate that the varying capacity of freedpeople in South Carolina to shape and defend the new society that would emerge after the end of slavery was rooted in their relative strength at work and in their communities. In Charleston and its lowcountry rural hinterland, demographic strength combined with deeply-rooted traditions of collective assertion to sustain a remarkably vibrant grassroots movement that persisted beyond the overthrow of Reconstruction. From very early on, by contrast, former slaves dispersed across the rural interior found their freedom severely circumscribed by a bellicose and heavily-armed white paramilitary campaign.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies